By Clay Hallmark
Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Lexington
Focal Passage: Ecclesiastes 5:10-20
Jean Paul Getty was born in Minneapolis in 1892. He was educated in California and attended Oxford University. He became an independent oil producer in 1914 and held presidential and directorial positions with several oil companies during the 1930’s.
From 1942 until 1961, he became president, general manager and principal owner of the Minnehoma Financial Corporation and then in 1948, he became president and principal owner of the Getty Oil Company. From the Second World War to his death in 1976, Getty was considered one of the richest men in the world. He began collecting fine art during the Great Depression when people were forced to sell valuable possessions for only pennies on the dollar.
Eventually, he owned one of the finest private collections of paintings anywhere in the world and established the J. Paul Getty Museum on his estate in Malibu in 1974. Here was a man who had it all. Or, did he?
Getty had three failed marriages and numerous mistresses. From these relationships he sired two legitimate and several illegitimate children all whom he deliberately avoided. He had few friends. Neither business colleagues nor competitors held Mr. Getty in high regard. He was cold, calculating, ruthless and uncaring. At his death there were few mourners and even fewer after his last will and testament was read.
Solomon could speak to a very similar situation. He had everything this world says should make you happy, fulfilled, and content, and yet he had no real contentment in these things. Here in Ecclesiastes 5, I believe we learn two important lessons:
Lesson No. 1: The world’s wealth cannot give your life real satisfaction (vv. 10-12).
It appears from the words of Solomon that the more one owns, the more he is owned by what he owns. If a person is not careful, possessions will not only consume one’s waking hours, but it will also disrupt sleep at night. The pursuit of wealth and possessions is a never-ending cycle. The more you acquire, the more your want. The more you want, the more you attempt to acquire.
Paul taught Timothy this truth in 1Timothy 6:10, when he said, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
When we lose a proper perspective or priority with our money and resources, we not only find ourselves abandoning God’s Word, but we are also abandoning God’s will. We are bringing many hardships into our own lives needlessly.
Why? Because we do not realize that satisfaction is not found in things, but in a personal relationship with the Lord who is the giver of life’s best things.
Lesson No. 2: The world’s wealth cannot give your life real security (vv. 13-20).
Look only into the history of our nation in just the past 75 years and you can see how time and time again people who placed all their hopes, dreams, and the security of their lives in their own financial portfolio actually lost it all. In the pursuit of security, they relied on the temporary. Everything we have today can be gone without a moment’s notice.
We need to learn to be content with what God has allowed us to have. We should give back to God and others as a ministry of love. We should enjoy and use what we have in a way that promotes good stewardship and that honors the Lord. When we do these things, we will find that we can sleep at night and live with joy during the day because we have truly been blessed by the Lord. B&R